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Wuhan pneumonia outbreak: Japan confirms first case of coronavirus

13:33 | 16/01/2020

A Chinese man who lives in Kanagawa Prefecture has tested positive for the new coronavirus, Japan Times cited the country's health ministry.

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A fish market in Wuhan, China, from where people have been confirmed to have been infected with a new coronavirus. | CNS / VIA KYODO

A man in his 30s from Kanagawa prefecture, next to Tokyo, tested positive, Japan's health ministry said in a statement on Thursday (Jan 16).

The man had been to the Chinese city of Wuhan, where there has been an outbreak of pneumonia believed to be caused by the new coronavirus strain, it said.

This is the second reported case of the virus being been detected outside China, after a Chinese tourist in Thailand was quarantined earlier this month.

The Japanese patient returned from Wuhan on Jan 6 with a fever and was hospitalised on Jan 10. He has already recovered and was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday, the ministry said.

Thai health authorities said on Wednesday they were stepping up monitoring of passengers arriving at airports ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday, when 800,000 Chinese tourists are expected to visit the country.

The US State Department issued a health alert update on Wednesday about travel to the Wuhan region. A Watch Level 1 Alert by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged citizens travelling in the region to avoid contact with animals, animal markets or animal products, among other precautions.

The pneumonia-like virus has infected 41 people in Wuhan, with preliminary evidence suggesting the outbreak was associated with exposure at a seafood market. It is still cordoned off after being shut down on Jan 1.

According to the Japan's health ministry the man treated in Japan has not been to the Wuhan seafood market. It is possible that he came in close contact with a person infected with the virus while in Wuhan, the ministry said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday that there could be a wider outbreak, and that it is possible the virus may have "limited human-to-human transmission".

One of the 41 patients reported in Wuhan could have been infected by her husband, local health authorities said on Wednesday.

The woman had no history of exposure to the seafood market, but her husband - who had been diagnosed with the virus - worked there, said Wuhan officials.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause infections ranging from common-cold symptoms, infecting the nose, sinuses or upper throat to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Some of the virus types cause less serious disease, while some - like the one that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) - are far more severe./.

VNF/Japan Times/Kyodo